The dozen or so people at a rehearsal recently in a cavernous unfinished room off the Lucky Lady Bingo parlor make for an eclectic theater ensemble.

Some are seasoned Austin acting talents like Lowell Bartholomee and Lana Dietrich. Others have varying degrees of theater experience — and day jobs. One is an instructor at Austin Community College. Another is a retired preacher. And there several school-aged children too.

Altogether there are 17 performers representing a varied demographic in "This Great Country," a new theater piece conceived of by Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone of the New York-based company called 600 Highway Men.

"This Great Country" is a commission from the Fusebox Festival, the sprawling 12-day performance art happening that runs through May 6.

Five of the 17 performers will speak the lines of Willy Loman, the iconic title character of Arthur Miller's classic play "Death of a Salesman."

Browde and Silverstone mined Miller's script to create their own version, literally deconstructing the work into a fresh, contemporary take on the tale of American middle-class ambition thwarted by disappointment and mediocrity.

But mostly — as they have with other productions — Silverstone and Browde shaped their show to fit a very specific time and place.

"It's a good moment in this country to hear this story again," says Silverstone, a native Austinite who has lived and worked in New York for the past 15 years. "Miller's story still has so much resonance."

After combing the city a few months ago, the couple (they are married) found the Lucky Lady, an enormous former supermarket on the Interstate 35 frontage road that's been everything from a Travis County storage facility to headquarters for the Barack Obama presidential campaign.

Currently, the building is painted bright pink and is home to a Mexican restaurant and a vast bingo parlor. Everything about the 4,000-square-foot bingo hall as a place where chance might just lead to dreams come true seemed perfect for a reconsidered "Death of a Salesman."

"Once we saw the place, we just knew we had to use it," says Silverstone. "It has great resonance."

In "This Great Country" characters are voiced by the multiple actors of all ages, the dialogue has been tweaked to add contemporary references, actors are encouraged to use their natural speaking voice, there are no props, there is little in the way of formal costumes and the scenes are interspersed with moments of simple yet emotionally charged choreographed movement.

There will be no special multimedia effects either — actors and audience will share the bingo parlor's washed-out lighting. (The unconventional show times are set to not interfere with the bingo parlor's regular functions.)

"We're trying to wake up the (theatrical) event," Silverstone says. "We want to make a space for the audience to have a visceral engagement."

"But mostly we wanted to make a piece that looked and felt like Austin."

Contact Jeanne Claire van Ryzin at 445-3699

Critic's Picks

Emily Lacy: "99 Times"

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Rollins Studio Theatre, Long Center for the Performing Arts

Cost: $15

Fusing folk music, electronic sound along with arresting visuals and costumes, Emily Lacy offers a solo performance that riffs on the recent global protest movements.

Travis Weller: "Willow-Spence"

When: 1 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Begins at Terrazas Branch Library, 1105 E. Cesar Chavez St.

Cost: Free, reservations requested

Musician and composer Travis Weller loves his East Austin neighborhood. So much so that he's composed a site-specific deconstructed chamber music performance that invites listeners to wander a roughly one block area where six musicians will each be located in a different place though all playing the Weller's chamber music tribute to his neighborhood. As you wander from musician to musician, an audio headset will allow you to hear a simulcast of the piece in its entirety.

Dayna Hanson: "Gloria's Cause"

When: 7 p.m. today and Friday, 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: Off Center, 2211 Hidalgo St.

Cost: $18

Multidisciplinary performance artist Dayna Hanson uses the often confounding philosophical ironies of the American Revolution as the basis of a rock-driven dance theater work that offers very skewed, ironic versions of important historical events such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

"When a Priest Marries a Witch: An Artist Talk by Suzanne Bocanegra starring Paul Lazar"

The typically rote artist's talk gets a total makeover. After South Texas-born artist Suzanne Bocanegra was asked by curators at New York's Museum of Modern Art to give a talk about her work, Bocanegra instead asked innovative performance artist Paul Lazar to present a slide-illustrated autobiographical tale about her life as an artist.

When: 9 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Road

Tickets: $20

Phil Soltanoff: "An Evening With William Shatner Asterisk"

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Road

Cost: $20

What happens if you take the dialogue spoken by William Shatner in "Star Trek" and use it to create a work about the meaning of art in the 21st century? Director Phil Soltanoff, systems designer Rob Ramirez and writer Joe Diebes meticulously cataloged everything Shatner ever said as Captain Kirk, then culled from it to create a lecture given by a dynamic, video Shatner puppet.

Aurora Picture Show: "Big Bad Wolf"

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Where: AMOA-Arthouse, Laguna Gloria, 3809 W. 35th St.

Cost: Free

Fairy tales have always straddled the line between comforting fantasy and terrifying nightmare. After all, what's not to be scared of in any of the stories by the Brothers Grimm? Houston micro cinema presenters Aurora Picture Show curate a selection of short films — including animation, live action, and documentary — that riff on classic fairy tales. Screening begins after dark in the Laguna Gloria amphitheater. Picnics welcome. May not be suitable for children.

LeeSaar: "Fame"

When: 9 p.m. May 1, 8 p.m. May 2

Where: Rollins Studio Theatre, Long Center for the Performing Arts

Cost: $24

Israeli-founded, New York-based dance company LeeSaar bring their powerful, intense, edgy choreography to a piece that has six performers unfolding a collage of images that explore the need for admiration, love, attention and the embarrassment of failure. You know, fame.

Joan Jonas: "The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things"

When: 8 p.m. May 4-5, 2 p.m. May 5

Where: McCullough Theatre, University of Texas campus

Tickets: $24

Pioneering septuagenarian performance artist Joan Jonas presents her multimedia video work that deftly incorporates dance movement, music, sculpture and spoken word into a kind of open-ended narrative based on Jonas' experience witnessing Hopi ceremonies. Noted jazz pianist Jason Moran will perform his original score for the piece.

Wunderbaum: "Songs at the End of the World"

When: 7 p.m. May 4-5, 8 p.m. May 6

Where: Rollins Studio Theatre, Long Center for the Performing Arts

Cost: $24

What does it mean — metaphorically, artistically — to end up at the South Pole, at the literal end of the world? Inspired by the Werner Herzog documentary "Encounters at the End of the World," Dutch performances arts troupe Wunderbaum team up with indie musical trio Touki Delphine to tell the story in 10 songs of an imaginary town in Antartica called McMurdo where the hopes and dreams of our imagined lives.